Service Learning | Howard Community College (HCC)

By | September 6, 2019

Howard Community College established the Center
for Service Learning more than 10 years ago to develop students who give back to the community.
For its efforts, the center has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community
Service Honor Roll. This award recognizes excellent college community
service programs, and I’m proud both our students and the community benefit. Let’s hear more.
Every year, one thousand Howard Community College students take their learning out into
the community, providing service with more than 55 partnering organizations. Service learning is a teaching method, first
and foremost, and service learning is different from other forms of experiential education
because we take a balance perspective where the community is collaborating with us and
the community is part of the process where they are benefitting at the same level that
the students are benefitting. So where an internship or a clinical experience really
focuses purely on the student learning and the student gain; in service learning we take
a step back and strategically link the organization’s volunteer opportunities directly to the content
of the course. Professor Rick Leith takes students to Real
Farm Foods as part of his Ethics in Literature course. And so coming out to a place like Real Food
Farm while we’re talking about hunger and poverty and how that’s handled uh in literature
and what are ethical obligations are uh enables us to connect what we’re reading with sort
of a real life experience. Service learning takes teaching out of the
classroom and brings it alive in the communities in which students live and work. It helps to really solidify the lessons that
they’re learning. It helps them to really continue to think critically about what they’re
talking about in class, um how it’s going to translate into real world experiences as
they go out into the workforce, as they go out and consider being part of a community. Not only do students have an opportunity to
learn more about what they’re reading, the service learning experience at Real Food Farms
empowers them to do something about the issue of food deserts. This place is situated right in the middle
of a food desert where people don’t have access to produce, uhh where the population locally
isn’t necessarily getting nutritious food, um other than with the help of organizations
like this one. I see the practical side of it because usually
we read about it. We read books and we write, we give our responses, like we write our responses
but this one we’re able to experience what we talk about. Like NGOs or government um
organizations trying to set up uh places like this to help people who are food insecure
get enough to eat at a very affordable rate. So that’s very good. It’s a great cause and what we’re doing
is supporting um a lot of a lot of families that you know can’t afford fresh food and
you know are reduced to you know cheap unhealthy foods. So what the- what program here does
is they ship out the fresh produce like fruits and vegetables and they sell it for less than
its sold in grocery stores so and EBT Food Stamps can be used to buy it, buy the food
as well. For Brittany Budden, who leads Howard Community
College’s Center for Service Learning, the experience can have a long-lasting impact
on both the students and the community. When they are actually able to see something
come to life they have the meaningful impact of knowing that they have been able to change
a cycle for someone else. They have been able to take a few hours out of their time and
actually make an impact. That is a huge empowerment to them as a person. And then on the flip
side from the curriculum standpoint they’re actually seeing their subject matter come
to life. Things that may sort of make sense when they’re reading about it or talking about
it in class, become so much more clear when they see it in real life. I think that the responsibility of a college
education is to help a student realize that they have a responsibility within their community
and getting out and working in the community enables them to see that it is a valuable
experience. That that just spending a few hours can be very impactful to the local community.

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